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Cameron supports same-sex marriage and opposes our right to wear the cross. Is this ‘the most aggressively atheistic government in our history’?

If the Prime Minister doesn’t want this perception to take hold, he had better start listening

By on Friday, 23 March 2012

David Cameron and Benedict XVI:  was the Prime Minister listening? (AP)

David Cameron and Benedict XVI: was the Prime Minister listening? (AP)

What do the right to wear the cross as a declaration of the wearer’s faith and the Government’s intention of legalising gay marriage, despite the firm opposition of most Christians, have in common? Answer, the growing perception that the Coalition Government is hostile to the Christian religion. Is this really what David Cameron wants? If he doesn’t want the idea to get about that he and his Government are anti-Christian, he is going to have to ask himself how it comes about that he is rapidly alienating most of us.

As Alexander Boot puts it in a Daily Mail article headlined “Is this the most aggressively atheistic government in Britain’s history?”, “Our (Conservative!) government”, he writes, “has upheld employers’ rights to sack any employee for wearing a visible cross or a crucifix. This is an outrage”:

… our government finds the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice more objectionable than the symbol of any other religion (one sees a lot of turbans, hijabs and yamulkas in London streets) ….

Why is that, do you suppose? You must admit it sounds eerie – especially coming as it does at a time when our spivocrats are also trying to destroy the institution of marriage, the bedrock not just of Britain’s established religion but of our very realm.

The only answer I can find is that HMG officials hate Christianity more than anything else.… they must feel that Christianity puts what’s dearest to them in jeopardy. They are right; it does. For Christianity represents 2,000 years of tradition, something that our state is trying to undermine through most of its policies, including those that seem to be purely secular.

Another link between the right to wear the cross and the fight against the government’s intention to legalise same-sex marriage is ironically provided, though tangentially, by the European Court of Human Rights. This is not an institution I am fond of: but it has just handed down a very sensible decision on gay marriage in France, and may well hand down another on the right to wear the cross when it hears the case of two British women who have been told by our courts that they cannot wear this symbol of their religion at work. They will, scandalously, be opposed, on Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone’s orders by British Government lawyers: but they will, ironically, be supported by the government’s own political correctness quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is another institution the usefulness of which I have not always been convinced by: but it will nevertheless argue in the same European Court of Human Rights test case that workers should have legal protection if they wish to display a token of their religious faith at work.

They may well win their case. When the EU tried to outlaw publicly displayed crucifixes in Schools and hospitals in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi appealed to Strasbourg and won: on the face of it, this seems a similar case. Strasbourg, I have to admit, doesn’t always get it wrong.

It has just, for instance, opined that same-sex couples do not have a human right to marriage. A lesbian couple had tried to establish marriage rights under European anti-discrimination laws but the judges declared that “the European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage”.

“The ruling,” says the Telegraph, “is likely to have an impact on David Cameron’s drive to allow gay marriages.” But are they right? On the face of it, the court seems to be supporting traditional, one man-one woman (in other words, real) marriage: “the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.

What they do support is civil unions of the type we have enacted here. On the issue of gay unions, the judges said: “Where national legislation recognises registered partnerships between same sex, member states should aim to ensure that their legal status and their rights and obligations are equivalent to those of heterosexual couples in a similar situation.”

So where does that leave us? The Telegraph says this ruling “is likely to have an impact on” the Governnment’s intentions to enact gay “marriage”: but how? I don’t know legally how that would work. Do we have a “human right” to live in a country where the whole meaning of marriage hasn’t been blasted out of the water by its own government? A moral right, certainly: but if the government persists with this legislation, could the Coalition for Marriage, say, go to Strasbourg and argue that our rights have been infringed? Probably not. But at the very least, Strasbourg confirms one thing: there is no human right to gay marriage: “in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage”, the court declares, a gay civil relationship cannot “be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.

Incidentally, the Coalition for Marriage petition now has over 300,000 signatures. Cameron may ignore the petition, however great the support it attracts. But the larger the number of signatures, the more his apparent stubborn contempt for those he governs will be exposed: if you haven’t signed it yet, do it now.

  • Honeybadger

    There is another lady on this blog who was told to take her cross off at her job with BMI!

    You know, people, this could be the start of something sinister… this craziness could even stretch to firms without a dress code! That is the fear.

  • Honeybadger


  • Fergus Rossmore

    You will be already be aware that there is a growing generalised social indifference to the wearing of religious regalia and same sex marriage…. The real problem is apathy and indifference…. The Catholic Church of which I am an active member is not the problem, but it is the contemporary negative role model of clerical greed and clerical sexual perversion that has destroyed the integrity of the Pope and the Vatican in the eyes of the faithful….. This makes me very sad because I truly believe in the goodness of the Catholic Church, that I feel is lost forever to the powers of darkness.

  • teigitur

    I disagree that that it has destroyed the integrity of the Pope. The Vatican is quite another matter.
     I would just refer to the words of our Lord when you are feeling negative towards “the Church” ( as can happen to us all from time to time). ” The gates of the underworld can never hold out against it!”

  • nytor

    “you are declaring that your loyalty and obedience to The Pope carries precedence over the lawful government of HM The Queen”

    It does and it must.

  • nytor

    “whether you like it or not, you are obliged to obey the law, even the laws with which you do not approve”

    This is hardly the point. Catholics do not approve of abortion and campaign against it being legal – there is no suggestion that we are disbarred from disapproving of it because it is legal. Laws are not always right. There is such a thing as an unjust law, and they can and indeed must be opposed if they are.

    It is also far from the case that the law –  any law, however unjust, however wrong, however mad or bad – passed by parliament must be obeyed just because parliament has passed it.

    If parliament decides that the Church “must” ordain women, or “marry” gays, must the Church obey? No: she cannot and she will not. Indeed, the very reason why she will not is that she simply can not.

  • nytor

    No, this is the point – headscarves are NOT a requirement of Islam (if they were, Turkey would not have banned them in public institutions), they are, rather, cultural, just as is the wearing of the crucifix…

  • nytor

    The difference is that double standards are applied where religions other than Christianity are concerned.

  • teigitur


  • Lazarus

    Sorry, think you’ve got the wrong church here! When did the Catholic Church teach that it was obligatory to keep the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and where does Dr Oddie rely on scripture in his argument?

    ‘Wherefore, it must be recognized that the Sacred Writings are wrapt in a certain religious obscurity, and that no one can enter into their interior without a guide; God so disposing, as the Holy Fatherscommonly teach, in order that men may investigate them with greater ardour and earnestness, and that what is attained with difficulty may sink more deeply into the mindand heart; and, most of all, that they may understand that God has delivered the Holy Scripture to the Church, and that in reading and making use of His word, they must follow the Church as their guide and their teacher.’ Leo XIII Providentissimus Deus

  • Nicolas Bellord

    And should such a trivial breach justify dismissal?  De minimis non curat lex? How about a bit of tolerance and decency?  Employees are not robots but human beings with all sorts of quirks which should be accepted.

  • W Oddie

    Cameron ‘ does NOT oppose the right of Christians to wear the cross’; you say, then you call me a liar: ‘Mr Oddie, of course, knows this as well as I do. His misinformation is quite deliberate’. But I know nothing of the sort, nor do I believe it: if Cameron is not against the wearing of the cross, why, on the orders of one of his ministers, are Government lawyers to go to Strasbourg to oppose the two English women who want the court to give them the right to express their faith in this way? Are you saying that what the government does isn’t necessarily what Cameron wants? Preposterous.
    Incidentally, I may on occasion be mistaken, but I don’t tell lies; I think you owe me an apology.

  • Jack McFall

    Well, The headings of most of today’s newspapers confirm your point of view that: “they (politicians) are all rotten to the core”.

  • daclamat

    I didn’t think I would have to draw it. I was being jocular, the point being that if you go into the Bible – and most people appeal to scriptures to up hold whatever strikes their fancy. Wander around Leviticus and you will find things to make your hair curl.
    The problem is that people trot around the bible looking for phrases to support their preconceptions. So, let us condemn….whatever, find a text.
    If you want to take “Holy Father’s” teachings as God’s revelation, go back in history and you will find yourself making backward somersaults worthy of the Cirque du Soleil.
    In the meantime Bishops remain  bald, unscathe, unexamined

  • Little Black Censored

    “……the ECHR does – confer a “right to private and family life”
    Typical upside-down continental legalism. Our enjoyment of private and family life should have nothing to do with any “right” that any court is pleased to “confer”. Ours should be a general liberty with minimal restrictions exercised by the common law.

  • James

    you are declaring that your loyalty and obedience to The Pope carries precedence over the lawful government of HM The Queen. This can be called sedition

    What’s the weather like in the 17th Century?

    The task of the Catholic Church is not to seek status and dignity, but to proclaim the Gospel. We can’t change it in the pursuit of popularity. My obedience to God carries precedence over the government, not matter whose it may be.

    We don’t (yet) have thought crimes in this country, so I will continue to speak my opinion on the subject, and will not be bullied into saying that which I do not believe.

  • Lazarus

    1) Got the joke! It was just directed at the wrong target: the Catholic Church doesn’t suggest that the Bible’s contents can be interpreted without guidance from the Magisterium. I’m sure the Church of Latter Day Snake Handlers will be prompted to a profound re-engagement with their theology as a result of your humour.

    2) If you want to tackle Catholic teaching on the basis it is actually made, (eg the ‘Holy Father’s teachings’ as you put it) please do so. You predict ‘backward somersaults’; I predict enlightenment and a coherent insight into human nature.

  • theroadmaster

    I would not be surprised, Nicolas, if that was the case.  Cameron is a “sound-bite” politician who is not afraid to go for the lowest common denominator to get into power and hold on to it.

  • theroadmaster

    I think that the “progressive” path that the UK is treading will impinge negatively on familial structures and loosen even further the cohesiveness that traditional families provide in terms of the inestimable source of security and sense of worth for children in society.

  • Honeybadger

    A bit like an ASBO, or a restraining order to a hoodie!

  • Honeybadger

    Ah-ha! Just as I thought.

    Claggy Cleggy is the puppet-master in this coalition.

  • Rosenpla

    If the State wishes to be secular Ok, but ban all religious public expressions including the Sikh Turban,Islamic Burga, Jewish skull cap and so on. It can’t be biased. Also of course the Monarchy would have to go because it’s based on the ideals of the Christian Faith and expresses publicly symbols of Christianity. However it does appear that there is a world wide attack on Christianity that ironically seems to have arisen since the rise of fundimentalist Islam in Western Culrure.

  • Maggie_McC

    It would seem, however, that no sign of leprosy has appeared on our bishop’s bald pates

  • Maggie_McC

    We all have an obligation to challenge an unjust law, which this clearly is, as it excuses the paraphernalia od other religions.

  • daclamat

    Lord, by this time he stinketh

  • Maggie_McC

    And Chrustians are a majority in England? Sure doesn’t appear so these days, tragically.

  • m francis

    Please Mr Cameron I really would prefer you to be honest enough to use your real name

  • m francis

    I disagree. There are far too many Catholics who take the easy way.  What sort of Catholic would even contemplate endorsing gay marriage. I wonder how many would be happy for their child to be led into such a promiscuous lifestyle. I suppose secretly I would like these people to feel the disappointment of not having their own grandchildren and the sad  unfulfilling lives that many of these people embark upon as an example to other Catholics that disgrace their faith

  • Lazarus

    As you’ll remember, I got over that! (But I’m still waiting for an account of the backward somersaults on same sex ‘marriage’ you predicted from the Holy Father.)

  • daclamat

    Yes, but have they been looked at as Holy Scripture requires?  Have you seen the pontff in his latest daft hat, the embroidered sombrero? Is there any limit to his posturing cult of the personality? I know the gate of hell are not going to prevail, but does he know whose side he’s on? Jesus on  a donkey! If BXVI can’t get around without armour plating, shouldn’t he stay at home.He doesn’t seemk to get the message!

  • John Byrne

    William Oddie writes: “…..
     then you call me a liar ”
    I didn’t use that word; it’s a word, on reflection, that I think I never use. But you must surely realise that Cameron is NOT opposing the general right of Christians to wear the cross, as you have said that he is. Your comment, in my opinion,  gives the strong impression that Cameron wishes to prevent Christians, in general, from wearing a crucifix. This is what I am saying, and nothing more. I’m sorry if I offended you; I didn’t mean to do so.

    It seems to me that the government is seeking clarification on the matter of BA’s dress code. The people concerned must have agreed the dress code when they agreed to take the jobs.

    If it is considered that the visible wearing of a crucifix is a requirement of their faith then they will be permitted to so wear it.

    The government lawyers will simply put forward the opinion that the visible wearing of the cross is not a requirement of the Christian faith. I think most people in GB would take this view.

  • aearon43

    Homosexuality is condemned by Paul in his letter to the Romans.

  • Navynurse

    You sound like Queen Elizabeth I who had more priests quartered and hung than any leader in history.  Is it coming to this again?